Coffee vs Energy Drinks


Many of us wouldn’t trade coffee for anything else, but it doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t enjoy an energy drink here and there. An energy drink can be more refreshing and a good option when we’re seeking a different flavor. The big difference is, however, what’s in each of these beverages. 

Of course, caffeine is the one thing that these two have in common. After all, caffeine is the most popular legal stimulant in the world, one which has very few side effects when ingested in moderation and is very effective. But we also need to look at the difference in quantities. In energy drinks, for example, other ingredients that have synergy with caffeine are added.

We’ll be discussing different aspects in which coffee and energy drinks are different so that you can come to your own conclusion in regards to which of these is better for you.

Before going further, here’s a helpful table showing nutritional contents of coffee vs. those of some of the most popular energy drinks out there:

100 gramsCoffee (black)MonsterRockstarRedBull
Vitamin B1202.5μg9μg2μg
Sugars0 (unless added)11.3g29.4g10.1g

It’s important to note that the reference amount, 100 grams, is not indicative of a serving. In the case of a cup of coffee, a regular cup is just over two times the amount shown here. The same can be said about Red bull cans, which are about 250ml. Monster and Rockstar cans tend to be double that amount, which is five times the amount of everything shown in this table. 

cup of coffee
Cup of coffee

Coffee vs. Energy Drinks


The most important thing, for some, is caffeine. They drink coffee almost exclusively for the caffeine regarding how it tastes- in which case, it may be cheaper but not as tasty as an energy drink. So let’s see how coffee compares to energy drinks when it comes to caffeine: 

A black coffee, brewed in a French press, drip, pour-over and etc, has about 120 to 160 mg of caffeine per cup. This rounds about 40mg per 100ml, and most cups are anywhere from 250ml to 400 or even 500ml per cup. 

Espresso, on the other hand, has a lot more caffeine: 64mg per 30ml. Seeing as how most coffee and milk beverages use two shots of espresso per medium cup, that’s 120mg per coffee. But beware of drinks with extra espresso shots! 

Monster has about 350mg of caffeine per can; Rockstar doubles that at about 700mg per can. Red bull has almost the same amount of caffeine as Monster, but since cans are much smaller, you’d be drinking around 150mg -or the same as with any regular coffee- per can. 

redbull energy drink
Redbull energy drink


The biggest difference we’ll see is in the nutrient content of each type of beverage. Coffee has almost no nutrients to speak of- it does contain, however, a very important amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants keep our body young and prevent diseases (like cancer), so it’s the biggest health benefit coffee offers. 

Studies have shown that coffee is the most important source of antioxidants in the whole of Europe and the American continent. Energy drinks have very few antioxidants.

What energy drinks do have is a plethora of different vitamins and nutrients that can be considered, individually, healthy for you. Most of them have different types of vitamin b: b12 is a very common one to see, as well as b6 as niacin. 

Some energy drinks might also contain L-theanine, which coffee doesn’t. L-theanine is a stimulant found in tea that is very good for your health and has been found to stimulate you without making you nervous or stressed. 

Sugar is also a big concern when talking about energy drinks. Most energy drinks have a very high sugar content which is unhealthy for you, particularly if you drink more than one of these a day. Coffee, on the other hand, takes only a fraction of the sugar that is in these drinks to be sweetened. 

Fortunately for us, there are sugar-free versions of most of these energy drinks- so it’s easy to avoid this health concern by just choosing to buy those options instead of the sugary ones. 

Cardiovascular burden

It’s not secret that caffeine is a stimulant: stimulants are not recommended for those who suffer from heart disease and any other sort of cardiovascular problems. However…

Coffee, up to two cups a day, has been shown to be actually safe for most patients. Even those who are recovering from a heart attack have been studied to show no complications from consuming that amount of coffee a day.

Energy drinks are a more complicated problem. Because servings are larger, drinking just one can of energy drink means the same as drinking three or more cups of coffee in one single seating, which is obviously unhealthy. 

The biggest problem is that energy drinks have high abuse potential. Much like with beer, people rarely have just one can and leave it: instead, chain drinking these beverages is a rather common thing and usually puts your caffeine consumption at ten or more cups of coffee a day- a lot, which could either make existing conditions worse or result in a new condition. 

Unlike energy drinks, coffee, on the other hand, is hard to abuse. On the one hand, it takes significantly more time to prepare, and it’s harder to just buy a (good) coffee at a gas station. It’s also a type of drink that is inherently strong, so you can’t usually stomach more than a certain number without being overwhelmed. Energy drinks are sweet and designed to be easy to consume, which makes the problem worse. 


And so you see: both coffee and energy drinks have their strong points, although there are some big differences between the two. We, of course, are very much partial to coffee and think coffee is the very best thing to ever happen to humanity. But energy drinks can be really good, too! 

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